AutoMatters & More: San Diego Miata Club’s St. Patrick’s Day Run
Now that I’ve been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 (the Pfizer vaccine), it is probably safe for me to carefully begin to resume some of my pre-pandemic activities, while wearing a face mask. Right up there on my list of those missed activities is driving for pleasure again, as opposed to just driving to make necessary trips to the grocery store. I also need to drive to restore my driving ability. A year in self-imposed isolation at home has left my driving skills a little rusty.
With that in mind, last weekend I joined a group of my fellow members of the San Diego Miata Club (SDMC) for a spirited drive through San Diego County’s back country. Given the date in March, our drive was aptly named the “St. Patrick’s Day Run.”
For those of you who have not had the pleasure of going on a fun run with a car club, I heartily recommend that you join a club and do so. Do a Google search for car clubs in your area, and find one that aligns with your interests. Otherwise, get together with a group of your friends and organize trips behind the wheel. That is a great way to socialize and explore new places. Designate a sweep car to bring up the rear, to help stragglers stay on the route.
It helps if you have two-way radios. A couple of years ago our club recommended the BaoFeng UV-82HP High Power UHF and VHF radio. That is not very expensive, has decent range, is small, the included little whip antenna is sufficient, and it is easy to understand what people are saying.
If you have a radio, you do not need to refer to the printed route directions — especially useful if you do not have a passenger to read them. The lead car’s passengers can use their radio to tell everyone in advance where to turn; let people know when to pull over, stop and wait, in case the group gets split up; and share important supplemental information — like when there is oncoming traffic, with brief descriptions of the vehicles — important to be aware of on a narrow, two-lane, tree-lined, twisty road if you were contemplating pulling out and making a pass.
At one point we were (that really happened on our run). Alas, the driver ahead of me could not miss it. RIP squirrel.
Likewise, we were told about a fallen tree branch in the roadway. From time to time we were also advised about cyclists on the road, so that we could slow down and be extra careful as we drove around sharp, blind turns. Of course, your passengers also might enjoy using the radio to socialize on the drive with other members of the group.
Something else that I enjoy, and you might too, is taking point-of-view, imaged-stabilized, videos of these drives and then reliving them later. To do that I attach a high-resolution GoPro camera (4K Hero 8 Black) via a GoPro suction cup mount to the inside of my car’s windshield. This camera is small, so it does not block my view of the road, the two important buttons (power and start/stop) are easy to find and use, and the GoPro suction cup mount is secure. It has been on my Miata for several months and it still holds securely.
I must stress the importance of using a camera that has effective image stabilization. On my 2019 SDMC trip to the big Miata Reunion event at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, in Northern California, I made the mistake of thinking that mounting my small, point-and-shoot camera to the windshield would sufficiently capture our scenic drive up and down the California coast, and on the racetrack itself. Unfortunately, that camera did not have effective video image stabilization, so all of my in-car videos shook quite a lot. That experience is what prompted me to buy the GoPro.
After this short trip, I returned home with some entertaining video footage of my drive along some of San Diego County’s twisty back roads, from my point-of-view looking over the bright orange hood of my Miata. The sounds of the engine can be heard, as I rowed up and down through the gears.
To see additional photos and my aforementioned videos, visit www.drivetribe.com, click on the magnifying glass, select “POSTS” and enter “AutoMatters & More #683” in their search bar. Please send your comments to AutoMatters@gmail.com.
Copyright © 2021 by Jan Wagner – AutoMatters & More #683
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